Monday, September 16, 2013



 "I am a Berliner" - JFK {Palestinian graffiti};  "Tear down this wall" - Pres. Reagan;  For us -- Why does the U.S. continue to support this wall of Israel?

This past March in the Wall Street Journal there was an article that grabbed my attention, Split Israel Bus Lines Spur Segregation Debate.   Having just received request for support of a young adult summer trip along the route of the civil rights Freedom Riders in the South of our country, the words “segregation” and “bus” resonated.
From the Freedom Rides of 1961 in the South
Freedom Riders Bus Burned near Anniston, Alabama, 1961
From the WSJ story it was apparent some Israelis were disturbed by the relationship.  A new separate bus system for West Bank Palestinians [two new lines], was requested by the Jewish settlers of the West Bank because they were being crowded out at times by Palestinians as both groups were headed in and out of Tel Aviv.   Yet a very small percent of Palestinians are given work permits on the Israeli side of their West Bank Barrier.  A few extra buses—not much change from the bad usual.  The crossings back and forth for them are one of many of the conditions that put them on the back of the bus, even when given two new bus routes.  No work, no land to work.

Getty image-West Bank Palestinians vie to take a new bus service begun Monday 3-4-13, to reach their jobs in Israel--Critics say it smacked of segregation-the government said it only added travel options
They’ve lost their lands to the creation of the Israeli state.  Since then, Palestine continues to shrink, as imposed Jewish settlements continue to grow on Palestinian land.  There are checkpoints throughout their territory, and military rule by Israelis supersedes any Palestinian law in what’s left of the West Bank.  It’s occupied territory.  They are second class citizens in their own traditional home.  
As the writer of the WSJ article put it, “Palestinians and Israelis living side-by-side in the West Bank are governed by a dual system riven with inequalities that rarely make headlines in Israel. … Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, was perhaps the first senior Israeli leader to publicly warn that Israel's policies in the West Bank risked leading Israel toward being "an apartheid state."

The history of Martin Luther King’s three headed monster of racism, poverty and militarism that a group of our young people learned more of personally in their journey south this summer, lives on in the troubled story of Israel / Palestine.  The violence of constant repression by Israel has led to the violent response of Intifadas.   Those killed always seem to mount up in a ratio of 10 to 1, favoring hyper-militarized Israel [receiving 3 billion plus of U.S. dollars per year].

Same bus burning in Alabama 1961 as above
The “Freedom” buses in our South were ridden by courageous black Americans, and whites supporting their cause, to change an apartheid society.  There were attacks on those buses.   In Israel buses have been bombed by suicide bombers in absolute frustration—belief blown up, that any change was possible.   There are also strong nonviolent movements among the Palestinians, till now having little support in Israeli society.

Screen shot from segment of Larry Towell's Indecisive Moments {artistically done--very worthwhile viewing} , in which he's evicted by Israeli troops for filming inside a bus destroyed by bomb

 Another one of allegedly 10, 20, 30 Palestinian suicide bus related attacks on Israelis since the late 1980's
At present, after the long impasse of so much war in the Middle East, there are tentative negotiations resumed, involving both sides of the Separation Wall, with the U.S. government as mediator, but the current war in Syria {offspring of Iraq War} overshadows.    At the end of the article on Israel’s bus segregation debate there is mention that a new movie gives a glimpse of what’s required for change.  “All six living ex-directors of Israel's internal Shin Bet security service, the lead agency in fighting Palestinian terror, recently participated in the Oscar-nominated documentary The Gatekeepers, to warn against Israel's continued presence in the West Bank.”

They have learned, as we learned in Afghanistan and Iraq, that occupation does not work.  All the children of Abraham must be given their promised land.  Returning lands to the 1967 borders was to be the minimal starting point for bringing the Palestinians to the table with the Israelis in talks ongoing today.  Stiff-necked Israelis now murmur and rebel.   May they remember that "This land is mine ... this brave and ancient land" was more than a line of a song from a 1960's movie "Exodus" celebrating the formation of the Israeli state.   It's claim applies also to the Arabs and Palestinians who've lived there century upon century.  

"Kindness and truth will meet; justice and peace shall kiss." Psalm 85

Until a just, two state solution is found--there will be no peace in the Middle East.  Thomas Merton says that "hatred is weak love." We are in need of strong love and forgiveness, not bomb-hardened hearts, to heal the violence that plagues the world, especially
in the Holy Land.


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